How to Wear a Shawl-Neck Sweater
When you think of a sweater what do you see? Maybe it’s a pullover that softly wraps itself around you in a woolly embrace. Or perhaps, like many people, you see visions of sweater abominations. Like the sweaters with manic holiday prints – usually in red or green, or the overbearing thick knit kind that have you peaking out of them like a terrified turtle.
If the latter has been your experience, let me start the healing by saying; “it doesn’t have to be that way”. The sweater has gone through quite a transformation in recent years. Gone are the days when it was only associated with fishermen and befuddled professors. The sweater, with all its types, has moved into hipper and more fashionable circles.
But what makes a good sweater? Aside from the fit and the quality, the type of collar really can help change up your look . In recent years, the shawl collar sweater style has become more and more popular. It’s no wonder, this distinctive collar adds a nice point of interest that the standard v neck, or o neck, just doesn’t do. So if you are contemplating how to wear a shawl collar sweater, let our short guide give you a helping hand.
What is a shawl collar sweater
Before we get into the ins and outs of how to style a shawl collar sweater, we should establish what a shawl collar actually is. While there are many collar types out there, you can’t miss a shawl collar. While it’s somewhat reminiscent of a V neck, there’s a lot more emphasis on the whole neck area. In a shawl neck sweater, the wide collar meets in the middle and crosses over into a v. You could liken it to the “ivy league” scarf knot (if you don’t know about that then check out our article on how to tie scarf knots)
And here’s some shawl collar history for you. Did you know that shawl collar necklines first appeared in the Victorian Era? The first known use for a shawl collar was seen in 1908. Back then, they were only found on men’s smoking jackets. This was a type of clothing (mainly worn by high society men) to prevent cigar and pipe smoke from permeating their clothes.
Go forward some years and shawl collar necklines began to appear on dinner jackets and even army mess jackets. There very appearance brings a touch of elegance to an outfit, elevating it above the mundane. However, although shawl collars are more formal than the usual neckline, they are rarely found on business suits.
Shawl neck collars have been seen on sweaters for years, particularly with cardigans. However, for pullover sweaters it’s only been popular in the last 5 years or so. While not making sweaters formal as such, they do add a touch of sophistication. They also help elongate the physique, softening angular features and bringing attention to the face.
What to wear under shawl collar sweater
Perhaps because it’s not as deep as a v neckline, and not as high as a turtleneck, many people wonder what to wear under a shawl neck sweater. Well the good news is there are no set rules, bar wearing a turtleneck underneath (that would just be weird).
Shawl neck collar sweaters lend themselves very well to layering, which is why they are worn so much during the colder seasons. Want to look a little more dapper than usual? Then wear a shirt and tie underneath the sweater. Need to dress down? A simple understated t-shirt will do.
Shawl collar sweater style: – Formal
Got a big meeting, but want to wear something a little different? Try combining a navy or black shawl collar neck sweater with olive chinos. Not only does this provide a hefty dose of manly elegance, it fits nicely into that semi formal area.
And how about adding some deep auburn colored leather loafers to complete this look? To accessorize add a large faced leather strapped watch, like the one here, and you are ready to go. This ensemble will look sharp without coming off as overly stuffy.
Shawl collar sweater style: – Informal
Casual doesn’t have to mean sloppy. If you want to seriously raise the style stakes, but maintain that laid back vibe, then this shawl neck sweater outfit is for you.
Pair light blue jeans with a shawl collar sweater, either in a darker blue (as pictured) or a deep burgundy. For a casual yet sporty look, don some hiker boots and a nice looking military watch.